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Egypt: Salafists block Baradei appointment as PM - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Nobel Peace prize laureate and Egyptian opposition National Salvation Front leader Mohamed El Baradei (L) gives a press conference on June 27, 2013 in Cairo (AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA)

Nobel Peace prize laureate and Egyptian opposition National Salvation Front leader Mohamed El Baradei (L) gives a press conference on June 27, 2013 in Cairo (AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egypt’s interim president Adly Mansour, has been forced to backtrack on claims that opposition leader Mohamed El-Baradei has been appointed interim prime minister.

The office of Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, announced on Saturday that Baradei would serve as interim prime minister, a claim that was repeated by Egypt’s official news agency, MENA, and media outlets worldwide.

However, the president’s office quickly retracted its statement in a press conference late on Saturday evening. A spokesman for the president’s office said that Baradei was a “leading” candidate, but that discussions on the formation of the new government were still ongoing.

The appointment of Baradei was opposed by the conservative Islamist Nour party, which is closely-associated with the Salafist Call movement. The Nour party forms part of the informal coalition assembled last week to oust Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-aligned president, Mohamed Mursi.

The deputy leader of the Nour Party, Ahmed Khalil, was quoted by the website of Al-Ahram newspaper that his party would withdraw its support for the process of forming a transitional government if Baradei was sworn in.

Baradei is a senior figure in a coalition of liberal and leftist parties, the National Salvation Front (NSF), was nominated by the NSF to act as its representative in talks that took place with the army, the Tamarod movement, the Salafist Nour party and the heads of Al-Azhar and Egypt’s Coptic Church last Wednesday. The meeting agreed a road map to depose Mursi and install a new government, according to a special report from the Reuters news agency.

The former head of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, unsuccessfully ran for president of Egypt in 2012 on a pro-secularist, liberal platform, in the same election that elevated Mursi to the presidency.

Stark polarization between supporters of the ousted Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood on the one hand, and their opponents have also been on display in Egypt in recent days, with competing rallies and demonstrations and fatal clashes between the two sides. On Friday, 36 people were killed as the two sides clashed in Cairo and Alexandria.

There were also scattered incidents of terrorism on Saturday, with a Coptic Christian priest shot dead at a market in the north of Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, and two bombs targeting a natural gas pipeline on Sunday morning.

The Tamarod movement, the group that sparked the original protests that ousted Mursi by began collecting signatures for a petition calling on him to step down, called for its supporters to rally once more on Sunday, in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

Meanwhile, several thousand supporters of Mursi remain camped out outside Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque and other sites in Cairo, vowing not to leave until he is restored to office.